Our town is a wonderland of winter pleasures. Skating for both pleasure and competition rule, as one would imagine, but cross-country skiing as well as downhill make strong showings. There are three or four sledding hills, and even though just about everyone with means escapes to Mexico or Cuba at some point, I don’t think many would really give up our winter if the opportunity presented.
Except my husband, who would throw winter under a snow plow without losing a moment of good sound sleep.
Last February, Rob got it into his head that we should take up cross-country skiing. He and Shelley had pursued it a bit here and there when the older girls were small, and he thought it would be a good winter activity to pick up again.
We outfitted late season, so it was tricky to track down the right sizes of boot, ski and pole for the three of us – but we managed. There were a few trial runs in the baseball field nearby and one rather treacherous trek on a trail much too hard for Dee out at Elk Island Park one Sunday before Rob decided perhaps we should wait until next year. Join the Nordic Ski Club. Take lessons.
Today we joined the local club, signed up for lessons and embarked on our initiation in the cult of the wintry trail.
The cult thing seems to be requisite, I’ve decided. It really doesn’t matter the interest or pursuit. The non-joiner in me can’t help but observe and take notes while making note of the exits, but I’ve come to the realization that there is no real remedy for involvement with those who crave tribe. There is some primitive need that compels most everyone to join – and sometimes over and over – with others in totally fabricated configurations.
Today were the Jackrabbit classes and general information for parents meeting. There are a lot of young families and it always makes a me a bit regretful that Dee didn’t have the chance to start some of these activities at a younger age even with my misgivings about becoming too enmeshed in groupthink. Watching a barely toddling little one happily learning to ski is to bear witness to base level values being instilled and nurtured. Powerful stuff.
Dee was dubious. Her last time on skis was Elk Island and on a trail that far exceeded her skill level. If she were a daring child that wouldn’t have mattered, but she is cautious to the point of fear, depending, but that trail scared me too given our slight skill base.
She envisioned more of the same in Jackrabbit class, but nothing could be further from the reality. The year’s growth showed. Between maturity and yoga, her balance has improved measurably. She is still slight but taller than she’s ever been in comparison to her peers.
Her listening skills – and these seldom transfer to Rob and I – exceed most children her age. She is a serious student, regardless of topic.
“I went down a hill and it was fun,” she beamed as she told me after class.
Dee loathes few things more than moving quickly downhill. It’s why she still can’t ride a bike, doesn’t roller skate or skate board and pokes along like a turtle on her Razor until she comes to a downward incline and then she carries it. Where this excessive caution comes from, I have no idea. Deeply recessive genes? Certainly not from me.
Next Sunday, Rob and I take our first lesson. Given that my knees are much improved thanks to yoga, I am hopeful to pick up a few pointers that will enhance the cross-country experience for me. Rob is just brushing up little used skills.
On the drive home, I asked Dee if she knew anyone in her classes. She didn’t. There were a couple of kids from summer activities – outdoor soccer and swimming – but no one from school.
The vast majority of her classmates lack the discretionary income for the types of activities we do as a family or the sports we encourage Dee to play. Most of the kids she meets go the separate school – John the XXIII. I asked Dee if she would be interested in switching schools.
Lately, she’s been complaining that she has no one to play with at recess. And while I am not surprised, she will not play the follower but isn’t confident or charismatic enough to be a queen bee, and her natural inclination to thoroughly check people out before trying to make friends inhibits the spontaneous formation of friendship that is more typical for children her age.
Rob and I have discussed moving her to another school, but we doubt it will solve the friend problem. The other children, for the most part, have years long advantage of association on her that even having started kindergarten with some of them hasn’t erased. It’s also pretty clear to me that many of the girls she meets have the added advantage of the parents – mothers in particular – being friends, and I am not much help to Dee in this area.
And there is the religion thing. If she moved to the separate school, the other children will have gone through two sacraments already without her. She would be excluded from much of the mass that her peers wouldn’t and as she already views church with a jaundiced eye (“I only go if I am staying with Grandma and have no choice.”), I can see disaster written all over this.
Perhaps the activity only route will work in the long run and she will meet children more like her.
“There really aren’t that many kids like her,” Rob reminds me. “But Edie and Mick were the same way. They didn’t make many friends here and never ran in huge circles of kids.”
Neither did I. Neither did he. For that matter, neither did her father, Will. He tried though but succeeded only in getting his feelings hurt by those with whom he associated. She is like him in that moth to a flame thing, though I can’t do anything about it. She will be who she is. I wish I could spare her the loneliness of being just on the edge and never really invited in.
Ski club? Hmmm. Maybe. If nothing else, it’s good exercise.
- 10 Winter Activities that Burn Serious Calories (self.com)
- Want to learn cross-country skiing and other winter sports? (bendbulletin.com)